Maccabi Hunter Haifa (8-10) returns to action after 13 days off as they host Hapoel Jerusalem (11-7) on Sunday at 7:00 p.m. at Romema Arena. The Reds enter the game after a crushing loss to Maccabi Tel Aviv last Thursday in the State Cup Final.
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Ready to Get Back to Work
Maccabi’s vacation started off on the right foot after a 72-59 road win over Ashdod on February 6th. Offer Rahimi had to make due with a limited roster as only 6 Green players played more than 13 minutes. Amit Simhon, who was out that game because of an injury, will be available for the game on Sunday.
The Greens raced out to a 26-8 lead over Ashdod, and never looked back. Oz Blayzer, who need 4 more points to reach 1000 career points in the Winner League, notched a double-double on 15 points and 12 rebounds, while adding 4 assists and 3 steals. Gregory Vargas, who is celebrating his 31st birthday on Saturday, was the leading scorer with 21 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists.
Last Thursday, the Greens hosted Hapoel Tel Aviv in a scrimmage. Oz Blazyer had another good game with 16 points, alongside Graves and Simhon who scored 12 points each. Young Nir Sarid played significant minutes, scoring 8 points.
“After two weeks without a league game, it’s good to be back,” Rahimi said. “The scrimmage against Hapoel Tel Aviv went well and helped us prepare for Sunday. Jerusalem is a good team, but we are focusing on ourselves. We have to come and play with a high intensity level in order to protect the house.”
The last time Maccabi faced hapoel Jerusalem, the game finished with a 93-71 Red win, despite a good first half by Maccabi Hunter Haifa at Pais Arena. Only two Green players scored in double figures, one of them was, Tony Mitchell, who was released from the team last week. Haifa’s leading scorer was Amit Simhon who tallied 18 points (7-of-16 from the field).
“We are up for a difficult and important game. We will fight for every possession and give our all on the court in order to win,” Simhon said. “Having our fans behind us in full force is going to be electric.”
On Jerusalem’s side, Curtis Jerrells and Bar Timor scored 20 points each and Amar’e Stoudemire added a double-double on 16 points and 11 rebounds in 26 minutes.
Head to Head
Jerusalem are in the middle of a Marathon
Hapoel comes to Romema in the midst of a busy stretch of games. Last week, they defeated Holon in the Cup semifinals, and lost to Maccabi Tel Aviv in the Final, 82-68. After the game against the Greens, they face Eilat on Wednesday and Rishon next Saturday.
In the State Cup Final, Stoudemire led the Reds with 15 points and 7 rebounds, Lior Eliyahu (13 points) and Jerrells (10 points) also scored in double figures, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the Yellows.
Jerusalem announced they will not register Jerome Dyson and Malik Hairston for the game on Sunday against the Greens.